Nick Castellanos' power binge continues; Marlins return to action

Nick Castellanos of the Cincinnati Reds is the early NL leader in homers (Getty Images)
Nick Castellanos of the Cincinnati Reds is the early NL leader in homers (Getty Images)

Big Red Machine

Nick Castellanos homered for the sixth time this season and is now batting .368/.442/.921. It’s obviously a small sample, but it’s also nice leading the league in home runs with 17% of the year finished. Castellanos is walking more, and Statcast shows him absolutely crushing the ball, with nothing about his hot start suggesting anything fluky (he went deep off Shane Bieber on Tuesday). Great American Ballpark is a nice upgrade for right-handed power, and RBI opportunities should be plentiful with the rejuvenated Joey Votto hitting directly in front of him. A lot of fantasy managers were high on Castellanos entering the season, and he’s actually exceeding expectations.

While Nick the Stick isn’t available in fantasy leagues, Tuesday’s starter Tyler Mahle is out there in 95% of Yahoo waiver wires despite some intriguing pitching. He held a struggling Cleveland offense scoreless over six innings after a solid first outing (he entered Tuesday ranked top-20 in CSW) versus a much better Cubs lineup. Mahle’s ugly 5.14 ERA last season came with an 8.95 K rate and 3.99 xFIP, and he’ll likely stay in the rotation if he keeps pitching like this even after Wade Miley returns. Not only is the Central division providing an extremely favorable schedule (Sonny Gray looks like a Cy Young candidate), but Great American Ballpark has also increased strikeouts by an MLB-high 11% over the last three seasons (which helps negate the poor Reds defense). Mahle is showing encouraging signs of helping fantasy managers even in shallow leagues, yet he’s available in most.

Marlins Back in Action

Miami returned to action Tuesday for the first time since July 26, and Jesus Aguilar picked up where he left off with another homer (his third over 16 ABs). He was one of last season’s biggest fantasy busts, but Aguilar is one year removed from posting a .274-80-35-108 line, and he’s sporting a 1.146 OPS in the early going. He’s not in a favorable lineup or park, but Aguilar is hitting third in Miami’s and is available in 96% of Yahoo leagues.

Monte Harrison made his MLB debut Tuesday night (as did prospect Jo Adell), although that resulted in strikeouts during all three at bats. Steamer projects a .222/.283/.368 line for the rookie, so Harrison can be ignored unless you really need speed in deeper formats … Miami’s lineup is brutal and should be attacked by opposing spot starters. Next up is Asher Wojciechowski, who sneakily ranks No. 2 in CSW so far.

One other possible Marlins player who could help fantasy teams of all sizes is Pablo Lopez, who took a no-decision Tuesday but looked strong during five shutout innings. His changeup is downright filthy, and Marlins Park has decreased run scoring more than all but one other stadium over the last three seasons, so Lopez is a strong add in fantasy leagues (although wins will be scarce), and he’s available on more than 90% of waiver wires … Brandon Kintzler has yet to record a strikeout this season, but he’s the rare closer who’s yet to lose his job in 2020.

Speed Round

Dustin May is now locked into an ideal situation in LA’s rotation, and his stuff is legit, so there’s immense upside here … After complaining about his arm in March, Joe Musgrove returned with added velocity before the season started, but now he clearly doesn’t look right … Howie Kendrick returned from a sore back and went 4-for-4 with a long ball. He remains an injury risk (although the DH should help), but Kendrick hit .344 last year and is locked in a regular role while hitting in the middle of Washington’s lineup in one of baseball’s best hitter’s parks. THE BAT projected him as a top-eight fantasy 2B before the season, but his slow start has Kendrick available in more than 60% of leagues …

Kevin Gausman gave up another four runs, but it came with a 7:1 K:BB ratio in Coors Field, and he entered MLB’s leader in CSW. The Giants’ park playing more hitter-friendly thanks to some changes isn’t ideal, but Gausman is showing signs of a real breakout if you can exercise some patience (you’ll want him benched for his next start @LAD) … Ty Buttrey picked up a four-out save, and while it’s mostly been a fool’s errand to chase closers, Hansel Robles wasn’t used after having not pitched since August 1. Robles has allowed 10 runs over 3.1 innings while showing dramatically lower velocity, and with Kenyan Middleton entering Tuesday’s game in the sixth inning, it appears Buttrey may be the favorite for saves in the Angels’ pen moving forward (although beware of his 1:3 K:BB ratio early on). The saves category remains the most annoying of all in fantasy sports.

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